Tag Archives: Tween Parenting

Pushing & Pulling

One of the toughest parts of adopting an adolescent kiddo is figuring out how to balance the need and desire to establish attachment by pulling the child close and the need to facilitate and foster the independence associated with being a teen and drop kicking kiddo out(ish). It’s a tough balance.

I’ve been spending a lot of time and effort really trying to do the attachment parenting thing, and I can say that it’s made life at Casa d’ABM better. Lots of time together, lots of patience, lots of deliberate effort to meet Hope right where she is. I’m really trying to pull her close, ensure her safety, and strengthen our relationship. I can see the fruits of this labor; less grumpiness, more willingness to be agreeable, less general upheaval in the house.

As I do this pulling, Hope’s friends are getting dropped off at the movies, at the mall, at the ice skating rink and anywhere else teens get dropped these days. Hope doesn’t get invited—like ever, but I try to make it happen with the few friends she has. It is normal for her to try to kick me to the curb sometimes. But she doesn’t; in fact she begs me to stay. Then I am on the spot to be present but invisible, but somehow cool all at the same time. I worry about when she will develop some independence and be on par developmentally with her peers. And when will I be able to just drop her off and come home and enjoy a glass of something until time to fetch her. (*Not so secretly hoping to regain control of my couch and remote on Friday nights…..)

I know it’s not a competition, but it’s hard not to compare Hope to other kids so that I can have a sense of what she might be doing if we had always been together, if she had been my biological daughter. I find it makes me sad that her life has been such that she’s stunted. I mean, what I’m dealing with here is a bit more than just “late bloomer” stuff. I find myself wishing her classmates would genuinely befriend her, that they would just invite her to hang out, that they would give her a chance to learn how to be a good friend. Watching Hope wrestle with this developmental hurdle has been hard; I know she’s lonely. I also know that she can occasionally wallow.

I also feel like there is a lot of feelings between both of us with me being both mom and proxy for a bestie. I mean, there have been seasons of my life when, without question, my mom was my bestie, but this is different. I always knew my mom and the privilege of having grown up with her allowed me the freedom to reclassify her as my friend as well as my mom. I know that Hope and I will hopefully get there one day, but for now, I am not sure how I feel about being both mom and best friend. I just want to be a space holder for a bestie, until she can develop the capacity to really nurture a friendship along such that evolves into a bestie situation.

Welcome to Crazy Town: I'm not your friend , I am your MOTHER!!!!

I never thought about how much effort goes into being a friend until I watched Hope navigate these waters. It is another thing that I’ve spent a lifetime taking for granted—I am very social and I make friends easily. Over the years, my job has had me on the road a lot, I went back to school and I became a mom. All of these things made me assess friendships and either work hard to maintain them or realize that the friend season was over with certain folks. But it was a luxury to just make those calls. I see my daughter so thirsty for genuine relationships. I try to teach Hope good skills so that she can be a good friend, but we are really behind the 8 ball—Hope’s emotional age is simply not the same as her peers and the capacity for the level of friend sophistication of high schoolers is pretty far above her head. It’s like watching a 4th grader hang out with some high schoolers. Cute for the first couple of minutes, painful for the remaining 58 minutes of an hour.

So for now, all I can do is pull her closer and try to help her feel safe enough and loved enough to let herself learn how to be appropriately social with her peers. I’m hopeful that we will work at this and succeed such that I don’t have to go to her senior prom with her.

Been there, done that…got the flamingo colored (I called it ‘coral’ back then) dress and dyed pumps to prove it. (You *know* you want to see that lovely one-shouldered confection with the drop waist…because 90s!)

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Baby Fat

I have baby weight.

Ok well, with Hope being now 14 and 5’8” I suppose it’s not baby weight. To be fair, it’s more like adoption/dissertation weight.

I’ve never been a skinny chick. About 5 years ago my internist actually said that I have a large bone frame (I’m legit big boned!) and I nearly wept with joy. I put on about 15lbs while I was doing my EdD and I’ve since gained about another 10 since Hope’s arrival in 2014.

This is the heaviest I have ever been in my life, and I don’t like it. I try not to beat myself up about it too much, especially since I have a checked history with disordered eating. But still, this body thing has not been good for my psyche.

A couple of months ago I went shopping for some new work clothes and was horrified that I’d gone up two sizes and the new size wasn’t even all that flattering. I ended up buying two wash and wear dresses at J. Crew that didn’t look like tents despite my having to purchase them with more than one X on the size label. The whole experience was really depressing, and that’s no exaggeration given my recent post on the subject.

This week I’m on the road to visit a prospective employer. They’ve been relentlessly recruiting me for a couple of months, and despite my repeated pleas of disinterest, I’m flying out to do a site visit. (SIDE NOTE: Friends/Colleagues who are reading this, seriously, I do not have plans to leave the current gig. If I was serious about a move I wouldn’t be writing about it *wink.*)

Yesterday I set out to purchase a new business suit. I stepped up my workout routine the last two months with yoga, a plank challenge and cardio. I psyched myself up to go to the “Women’s” section of Macy’s to find a pant suit that would make me feel good because it actually fit. I told myself not to be concerned with the numerical size, but just focus on fit and feel.

What I did not tell myself was to leave Hope at home.

I’m still eager to have the shopping experience with my daughter that moms and daughters long to have: Sifting through racks looking at clothing, playfully bickering and then picking out stuff. I mean, it’s happened, kinda, but Hope really doesn’t like clothing shopping despite having the long lean body that I might be willing to lose a lower arm for. Her recent growth spurt had her going from a size 8 to a size 4, and her legs go on for days. Oh and she could live off of chips, ramen and those nasty vienna sausages that come in the can. #thatmetabolismtho

Ick.

Anyhoo, Hope tagged along on my trip to Macy’s where she proceeded to do the following:

  • Play in the clothing racks like she was 5 years old.
  • Repeatedly yell out my slacks size from 7 racks over in an effort to *help* me find something to wear.
  • Yelled out how all of the clothes in the “Women’s” section looked like granny clothes.
  • Kept asking if I was going to buy her something. #nodammit #shoppingformeonly

Eventually I snatched her up in the dressing room and explained that she was kinda killing my shopping vibe since I wasn’t feeling really good about myself. Oh and dang it, this shopping trip was not about her!!!

She had no clue. She said she hadn’t had a chance to play in the racks as a child, and she thought she was being helpful. From her perspective, *we* were having a great time. From my perspective I wanted to take my fat curvy self home to eat another piece of Hope’s birthday cake with extra icing. #emotionaleater

Sigh.

In the end, I did get back in the right head space. I got a nice black suit that will meet my needs. The slacks are little big so I’ll have them tailored sometime in the next couple of weeks. #vanitysizing I feel good about my purchase, and after our chat, Hope ended up being more helpful than hurtful. She tried and I was grateful.

My lesson yesterday was realizing that Hope doesn’t seem me as a chunky girl. I’m just mom, and I transcend size. She can’t understand why I would be concerned about my size or her yelling it across the department store. She’s always mystified that I workout and that I actually enjoy it or that I eat so many fruits and vegetables. I think she actually thinks I might be modeling a relatively healthy life and decent body image to her.

Imagine that.

I guess Hope can teach me a thing or two sometimes.

Still, she bet not run through them dang racks again. #nomaam


Sibling Rivalry

Ahhh, so the reality is that I have two kids.  One kid has two legs, is taller than me, speaks English and is sliding deep into the drama that is teen years.  The other kid has four legs, weighs about 7lbs, is just under 6 months old and is deep into the throws of puppydom.

And these two…oh these two!

Yappy is a puppy; he does puppy stuff.  In the last week he has chewed through 3 cords (electrical tape is sooooo important in Casa d’ABM), shredded a new roll of toilet paper and created a full on lair under my bed. He is maniacal in his endless puppy enthusiasm.  I relish in coming home to Yappy because when I walk through the door, he acts like I hung the sun and the moon, and I am the best thing that has happened to him…ever! And his cuddles.  Sigh! I loves me some Yappy.

I loves me some Hope too, of course.  Hope has recently decided that she is not checking for Yappy though.  He’s cute (adorbs!) when he wants to play, but when he chews on things she has left out…well, he is enemy number one.

Today she managed to spill a bunch of Mike and Ikes on the floor.  Yappy thought God sent manna from doggy-heaven and ran to gobble what he could before being scolded.

I found some…um…some of Hope’s unmentionables in Yappy’s lair recently, a reminder that Hope needs to  deep clean and scrub tidy her room.

Yappy destroyed all the aces in Hope’s new deck of cards that she left on the living room floor.  Not sure how he did that but he was proud of himself (frankly so was I); Hope was furious!

And to top it off, he loves me more.  Heck I feed him, train him, snuggle with him and take him for long walks.  Yappy runs to me for EVERYTHING. And I love it.  It’s unfortunate that Hope’s impatience means that Yappy’s attachment to me exclusively will only grow over time, but selfishly, I’m about that puppy adoration life.  Hope and I can get rather frosty sometimes.  Yappy never gives me the cold shoulder.

Elihu says I’m more patient with Yappy than I am with Hope.  Honestly, he’s probably right.  I totally understand what puppies do and why they do it. I don’t understand this teen thing at all.  Not one bit. Totally foreign and infuriating sometimes.

I’m hoping that in time Hope will come around to understanding that this is life with a puppy.  Puppy proofing is necessary, as is good consistent correction.  That good, consistent love and correction is good for both my fur baby and my teen, equally.

But for now, the daily sibling squabbles continue–only Yappy doesn’t realize that he and Hope are squabbling.

 


Doing This

At least once a day I sit around and wonder, “What the heck am I doing?”  OK, really, there’s usually some sort of full on expletive in place of “heck,” but I digress.

Because Hope and I often surf from one crisis to another, the mundane often feels so elusive to us.  You know, I try to maintain key daily routines but still I’m often wondering is this crisis thing just our normal?

For how long?

Forever? #Outkast

outkast

When the crises cease, will Hope and I even know how to go forward without a bunch of drama? Who knows.

In the meantime, what’s this mom to do? #sigh

We are paddling on a log wave crisis right now, and we’re in the midst of a short lull.  It’s allowed me to focus on just trying to maintain a safe, loving place for us–her and me.  I don’t feel like I get to intentionally focus on that much with everything always on DEFCON 1. This past week was a close to normal as I feel like we’re going to get for the foreseeable future.

And I probably didn’t do anything special but try a little harder to just practice chillin’.

I listened.  We are deep, deep  I say, into the first love around here.  Ugh. It. Is. Torture.  And I’d like to put this little punk under the wheel of my car and make him into a Lifetime Movie that doesn’t end well for him.  I’ve given consistent messaging about self-worth and self-respect, but mostly I’ve shut my pie-hole and listened.

Holy Homeboy I’m tired of hearing about this boy and his shenanigans. Tie-erd, I say.  But the more I stayed silent, the more Hope talked about her emotional struggles with the epicness of the heart crushing first love.  I wish she could articulate like this about her other struggles.  But Hope talked and talked.  And she was happy to talk.  And I managed to be some kind of lamp post on her raggedy road to middle school love.

Side Note: Boyfriend betta be glad that Elihu lurks with a level head…he’s mad protective, but bless him, he prays on the regular to keep a level head. I however, do not, subscribe to such discipline, which is why I will be at the school recklessly eyeballing this punk during band class this week.

I helped her cook.  She got some new cookbooks for Christmas, so Hope chose a dinner menu; I bought the necessary ingredients. I played sous chef as she attempted to make her first potato soup, and I helped her fix it when the recipe revealed itself to not provide the best outcome (milk soup with potato lumps?).  We avoided a kitchen meltdown, learned about improvisation, and had a lovely dinner with good chatter (see me listening above).

I did her hair. Hope has mostly wanted to wear her hair in twists this last year.  She wants her hair to grow long, really long.

willow-hair

Recently she asked me to take down her twists, blow her hair out and flat iron it.

And I did.

On my birthday. #dammit

It took 4+ agonizing hours.

Did I mention this was on *my* birthday?

My feet hurt, my legs hurt, I hurt.

But she was thrilled with her long, bouncy hair.  Nevermind that her hair needs to be trimmed and shaped.  Nevermind that she was serving first lady of Greater Mt. Zion-Calvary-Horeb/United/AME/Pentecostal/COGIC/Baptist/High Baptist (with gloves on the ushers)/Potter’s House/Temple with Rev. Dr. Bishop Jerome presiding realness; all she needed was a church hat and a doily to toss across her knees. #lawdhafmercy

churchlady

She was so happy. Absurdly happy.  Some kid at school told her she looked like a Black Marilyn Monroe. #idiedlaughing

And I’ll do it all again this week.  Fun times (#sideeye); I’m taking some ibuprofen this time and putting that round brush to work.  #beenwatchingdominicanyoutubevideos

Next week is back to curly twist outs.

I cut her some slack. I gave her some space.  I let her be sad.  I gently reminded her of her chores.  When wacky stuff turned up on the random cell phone check, I didn’t flip out. I gave her lots of hugs.  I just thought about all the stuff she’s got floating around in her head, and I cut her some slack.

And we’re better for it.

Parenting isn’t easy, and despite what some folks say, not every day is the best day of your life.  #realtalk There are some really crappy days along the way. But we’re doing this.  Day by day, step by step.

We’re doing this.


Big Fun

Hope recently asked me, in her most exasperated, working on getting it perfect, teen tone: “Mom, ugh…..how did you ever get through being a teenager? It’s sooooooooo hard. It’s so confusing, all these emotions, I just can’t.”

I waited for her to throw herself to the floor and writhe around as that seemed to be the next logical step in this drama-filled confab we were having. She didn’t, and for that I am grateful.

“Yeah, sweetie, I dunno. It’s hard. I guess I muddled through…just like you will muddle through. No one gets a pass on the horror that is the teen years.”

Hope had just spent the last #ikidyounot 2+ hours telling me blow-by-blow about a conversation she had with her crush after school the previous day. You know that time that she left the after school program because the crush said it was ok, and that he could sneak her back into school, and no one would be the wiser, but that’s not what happened, and I found her on the side of the road freezing to death alone when I picked her up?

#recordscratch

#recordscratch

This kid is going to be the death of me. It’s a wonder I even saw her!

I didn’t even yell at her at the time; I couldn’t. I mean…I was so stunned that I found her on the ROADSIDE, with no damn coat on in 30 degree weather. I didn’t even ask her the whole story at the time. I was just so glad Hope was ok, and I was busy blasting the heat so that she didn’t continue to freeze to death ON THE SIDE OF THE ROAD. #lawd #ranmypressureup

So yesterday we spent a relaxed evening with her telling me the whole story of how she ended up on the side of the road.

Honestly if it wasn’t so dang absurd and scary, it would be hysterical. The things we do for a crush…smh! As she spilled the tea, I found myself shaking my head.

oprah-smh-o

Hope would respond, “Yeah, mom, I know. It was dumb. I was really dumb.”

And I still couldn’t yell at her. Lord knows I wanted to raise hell, but I couldn’t because I started remembering the time my dad came to fetch me from a location where I KNEW I wasn’t supposed to be, doing something I KNEW was stupid. I remember the fresh hell I felt waiting for him to yell at me, waiting for the inevitable punishment, waiting to be in so much trouble. Oh I got in trouble. I remember losing my TV and being grounded for a long time, but I don’t remember a lot of yelling. I’ve probably just blocked it out, because I’m sure there was some yelling. But I remember the punishment, and more so, I remembered the self-conviction I felt because I knew I was in the wrong, so, so very wrong. I don’t even know if I really hung out with those kids, who I followed in my dumb moment of peer pressure, ever again. I remember the gravity of letting my parents down and just doing something so absurdly dumb and how it made me feel.

I could tell Hope was feeling pretty low. With every, “And then he said…. And then I said….and then we went so and so and then person X stopped to take a selfie…,” I knew how she felt about her shady shenanigans. I also kinda wanted to stab myself with a fork because the conversation pattern was annoying as all get out. #totally #literally

So, I decided to show her how I felt. As she was still prattling on, I pulled up a clip of Claire Huxtable GOING THE HELL OFF on Vanessa in the episode called The Night of the Wretched. I told Hope to hush and that this was what I was feeling right now, but that I would not yell at her. She could feel free to imagine Claire yelling at her for having Big Fun with her crush while wandering around the neighborhood two miles away from home.

She laughed and afterward said she got it. I took over the conversation by asking what I really wanted to know—specifically what happened (in 90 seconds or less) and how she now felt about her crush and his shenanigans.

I’m glad I could take some time to breathe, to remember how hard it is being Hope’s age, to remember what it was like getting caught doing stupid ish.  I’m glad that for once I could practice a little grace with her. I’m glad that she can talk to me and tell me what’s going on, even if it takes forever to tell the story. I’m glad we are learning not to blow up.

I’m counting this as my first parenting win for 2015.


Mountains and Parking Lots

I have this saying, “I only die on mountains; I don’t die in parking lots.”  Makes sense right?  Don’t sweat the small stuff; save all the energy for the serious ish. And for the better part of the last year with Hope I managed to stay the course and only trudge up mountains (or at least some big hills).  I would occasionally get mildly injured from bouncing off of a parked car (figuratively of course), only to be righted and find my way to the mountainous battlefield.

Then I read this stupid-tail parenting book.  Seriously, that is the last dumb-arse parenting book I will be reading in a good long while.  I think I’ll stick to advice from parenting blogs and Marvel comic antagonists.  I probably should also pray to the Holy Homeboy more too.  Sigh.

The gist of the book was that most power struggles stemmed from parents’ personal anxiety, and that yielding on those parking lot issues reduced the anxiety and helped kids learn personal responsibility.  Yeah, ok.

So, I hear that for a lot of parents the filthy teen room is a parking lot issue.  Just close the door, they say.  It’s their personal space, they say.  Not worth fighting over, they say; spend that capital somewhere else.

Ok, Mr. Dumbarse BookMan, I must be really anxious over this room thing.  I need to let this go.  So, I tried it.  I tried to let it go.  Yielded.  Oh I yielded the hell out of letting my angst of Hope’s room filth go.

And each week, I got more anxious, not less because the room got worse.  It got smelly.  The trash was strewn around.  I think I might have started hyperventilating whenever I crossed the room’s threshold, which consequently became infrequent. #ilikebreathing

I’m not a neat freak, but seeing things I worked hard to provide, seeing my home of 14 years treated so poorly, just…tore me up inside and outside.  This was not a parking lot.

So, here it was New Year’s Day.  I realized that I could not deny any longer that Hope’s room was one of my mountains.

I typically spend New Year’s Day cleaning.  I never noticed before today how important tidying and freshening for the new year was to me.  Oh, it’s important.  So, knowing that one of my spaces was in disarray sent me into a not-a-slow-boil to the point where I became unhinged with Hope during an epic fight last evening.

Completely unhinged.

I have laryngitis today; it doesn’t even hurt because I just tore into my vocal cords to shreds yelling and pitching an unholy fit. #conniption

Yeah.  Completely. Unhinged.

Had to call my agency’s support line to get myself together.  I lost all my parenting swagger during the last month or two.  Tapped slam out. Mrs. P talked me off the ledge and helped me developed a plan for getting through this foolishness and for getting my swagger back.

Today I had someone take Hope out for several hours.  I got that room cleaned up.  I purged stuff and I removed other stuff to create a library/check out system.  I got some storage hacks and put on some new bedding (after discovering the existing bedding had been damaged by spilled nail polish).

I purged in my room.  I got rid of a lot of stuff.  Most to trash and some will head to the Goodwill tomorrow.

And finally, I was able to breathe.

I braced myself for Hope’s reaction.  A lot of stuff was gone.  A lot of stuff wasn’t visible because it was properly stored.  Eventually we talked it out.  I apologized for not realizing that her room was a mountain for me.  I explained my basic expectations, how she could access some things and how she could keep up with things.  We hugged it out.

And all was good.

That is until I left the rhind on her ham and brie sandwich, and a new round of bougie girl pouting started.  #spoiled #bougie #privilege #girlbye

Whatever chica.  You ain’t even know about brie before you moved here. smh


Silencing the Noise

Recently blogger, Love Hurts, posted an essay called, “am I a good mom?” I can’t say that I ask this question specifically; it’s more that I review collections of incidents and do assessments and think about where I could do better, how I could’ve done worse and be glad I didn’t.

I’m constantly looking to improve, but overall I have gotten to this space in which I try to be kind to myself. I try to give myself a break. It is an odd thing to have no kids one day and a kid, a teenager no less, the next day. It’s hard work. I get it half wrong or just all wrong every day. But I figure Hope seems happy, she’s safe, she’s fed, she’s loved, she’s learning. I must be doing something right.

I’ve come to believe that my worries about parenting are triggered by factors and individuals outside of me and Hope. There are the comments about what I let Hope “get away with” as we continue to work on big issues from her past. There are the side eyes I get because I’m apparently doing the most. Then there’s the passive aggressive commentary when I’m apparently doing the least.

I try to stay inward focused on Hope’s needs just so that I can tune out the noise. The noise doesn’t add any meaningful input into my life or parenting. It does serve to further breakdown whatever confidence I might exude on any given day. It makes me question the things I absolutely know I got right and cry more over the things I wonder if I screwed up royally.

What’s interesting about the criticism is that it rarely offers a suggestion for a better way to do anything or if the commenter might pitch in to help. Sometimes they offer suggestions, but they aren’t helpful because the offering is made without tons of nuanced information about my and Hope’s journey through trauma and adoption. So it really is just noise.

Today I am sitting in a conference room in the mid-west in a meeting away from Hope. Today she is out of school. Nanny 1 has left for the day and the other nanny won’t be in until this evening. Hope is “Home Alone.”

homealone

Hope has food.

She has a list of chores and activities.

Appropriate PPV movies were purchased this morning.

The crockpot is going for dinner.

I will call to check on her throughout the day.

Hope’s got an emergency contact list and access to two building concierges who can help out if necessary.

She’s 13 and will be home alone for maybe 10 hours. She will likely sleep 4 of them easily.

I did play a bit of resource Cirque du Soleil trying to have someone there to entertain/watch her today. My machinations didn’t work, and so she’s home today alone.

And you know what?

She’s going to be fine.

Are we both a little nervous? Yep, because I’m not downtown; I’m 1200 miles away.

Am I confident that the likelihood is small that she will burn the condo building down or some other cataclysmic event will occur? Yeah, I’m pretty confident.

Do I think by the 3rd check in call/Google hangout that she’s going to go all snarkily, “ Mom, geesh, don’t you have something to do?” Yep. And I will smile and tell her I’ll call her back later.

And do I think that she will be happy to see Nanny 2 this evening? Yep.

Will I celebrate her major achievement in demonstrating teen responsibility when I get home tomorrow? Yep, like a boss (provided the condo building is still standing)!

explosion570

Do I wish things had worked out differently? Yeah, but they didn’t.

Does any of this make me a bad mother? No, I’m pretty confident it does not.

Parents make tough decisions with available resources all the time. It’s what parents do. I know through this journey as a new single mom that I have much more empathy for birth families and the challenges they may face along the way. Sometimes things go really, really wrong. I’m fortunate to have resources, to understand systems, to be able to pull things together to fill most of my gaps. My heart breaks for those without those resources and ability to navigate the rocky landscape; it’s easy to see how a cascade of bad, tragic things can happen.

So instead of internalizing the critiques, staying pissy about them, and finding ways of “punishing” those who poke my mom’s eye, I’m going to send out some energy to other moms, new moms, adoptive moms and any kind of moms who need it. You’re doing fine. You’re making tough decisions, some will be great, and some will suck. You will triumph, and you will stumble. I hope that you don’t experience or internalize the negative criticism floating around about your parenting and that your would-be critics think to ask how might they help you be more successful rather than point out your perceived flaws. The former would be so much more productive than the latter.


Today in Images

I simply can’t recount the drama of the day in detail.  It’s just meh…sometimes you just can’t. So, every now and again I try something different.  Here’s today in pictures.

 

Two hours of sleep after the On the Run concert. I’m too old for this mess.

Then I get this phone call…

Then I get this phone call...

cliff 2

hell no 2

When I get to the spot…simmering. I didn’t actually say this, but I thought it. I did give the look though.

And the administrator thinks I’m about to cut up and act a fool because of the events of the morning.  Didn’t know me from a can of paint.

And the administrator thinks I'm about to cut up and act a fool.

No boo, that’s Dr. ABM to you. #respect

No boo, that's Dr. ABM to you.

After the “Dr” thing, all sorts of privilege turned up and solutions magically appeared.

After the Dr thing, all sorts of privilege turned up and solutions magically appeared.

But I was still about to come undone about what happened. It was serious.

But I was still about to come undone about what happened.  It was serious.

It was going to be on like popcorn.

It was on like popcorn.

 

And our ice maiden alter egos made an appearance.

And our ice maiden alter egos made an appearance.

And after the thaw-ie several hours–we had the heart to heart that didn’t involve me wringing her neck.

I used my communication skills and everything.  I also kept my hands firmly at my sides.

And then we had the heart to heart that didn't involve me wringing her neck.

And we hugged it out.

And we hugged it out even though there are consequences in place.

But there are some serious consequences in place.

blackhole

 

And now red wine…and bad TV.

Don’t forget to check out the second episode of Add Water and Stir–this Thursday night, 10pm EDT/9pm CDT! 🙂

addwater3

 


Where Are We?

So, Hope loves teenie bopper magazines. LOVES them! Seriously, whenever she finds them in a store, my girl will grab a few and plop down in the middle of the store floor and commence to getting her celebrity news fix. I have to remind her that at 12, perhaps getting comfy in the store like that isn’t really appropriate unless we’re like at Barnes and Noble where there are some couches.

I get it. I went through a phase in the last decade where reading OK!, Life & Style and Star brought me loads of entertainment. I traveled a lot, and airports seemed to get the new rags first and I would load up while on the road and thumb threw them on the plane. It was a guilty pleasure. So, while I’m over it, I get Hope’s desire to see what’s going on with all the young celebs running the streets.

About a month ago, she asked me if she could put the 37,000 posters that come in each of her magazines on the wall. Ok, sure, why not. It’s your room. She was delighted; apparently her foster placements didn’t allow her to put up posters and help make the space hers. Meh, it’s a poster, no biggie, go ‘head girl, get your celebrity scope on.

And then she plastered the wall, nearly ceiling to floor. And I helped. And I was perplexed when I stood back and looked at all the little eyeballs staring back at me.

Posters

There are even more posters that didn’t make the snapshot!

Are there really no brown and black folks doing kiddie pop? Ok there are two brown girls in a couple of random girl groups that I’d never heard of (truth: Other than Bieber, Gomez, Grande and Mahone, I hadn’t heard of any of the kids plastered on the wall). But the lack of visual diversity gracing the wall was (is) jarring to my senses. Yes, yes, I know that Selena and Ariana are Latinas, but a quick glance at the wall doesn’t allow you to really take that tidbit of info in and process it. At least little Ariana drops some Spanglish lyrics in her songs…

There aren’t any 2014 versions of little Tevin Cambell? No B2K? No New Edition? #youhavetocountmeout No BoyzIIMen? #eastcoastswing No Monica? No Brandy? #theboyismine? No Kris Kross #makeyawannajumpjump? No Urshur (Usher—I can’t stand all that extra R in the pronunciation!)?

Has young “urban” pop just fallen off the sceen? Really?

Is Hope just left with White teenie boppers making age appropriate music?

I thought I was only bemoaning the ever declining state of hip hop, what with all the hypersexualized, drug glamorization and poor lyrical prowess out there. Save a few true artists putting in work out there, hip hop just makes me shake my head these days. I cringe sometimes when Hope is reciting some songs and then there’s a 4 to 8 beat pause when she’s skipping over the foul language. #youbettanotsaythatinthishouse

But now, I also see the absence of young teenie boppers of color too.  Does that mean that, well, that’s not the type of music “We” make anymore. We make rap music or when we’re much older, we make R&B music and some of us will make Gospel and some will rock Neo-Soul. But we aren’t really doing youthful, bubblegum pop music? I can’t imagine that there’s a dearth of talented, camera ready brown and black kids out there? So where are we?

Word Up magazine is gone. Right On! magazine is gone. Juicy magazine doesn’t target the tween/teen demographic. Damn, the good mags are gone too. Remember this gem from back in the day?

NewEdition

Back when jheri curls were fly.

 

Sigh.

Hope wants to be a singer. She is talented musically, but singing probably isn’t her strong suit; her strengths lie in percussion. I can see it, but she can’t yet. But she still fancies herself a future singer. I wonder what subtle impact, if any, does not seeing a representation of herself on the wall means. Does that mean she’s not even going to think about singing bubble gum pop? Does it mean she’s not going to be on the Disney channel? Does it mean that she’s going to skip right over and sing hooks on the latest Little Wayne Lollipop song, because well, that’s what brown kids do? Or gasp…just be in the video? (Hey, not bashing the ladies in videos, everyone’s gotta eat, but I’m going to be pretty transparent here and disclose that one of my goals to keep my kid out of clear heels in the club or on the video set, ya feel me? I want something different for her.)

Some folks will think I’m making too much of this. But there’s a huge body of research out there on the impact of not seeing yourself represented in the media. It’s not good. Sure, folks overcome it, but those folks are the exception and not the rule. I’m losing sleep over many other, more important things as Hope continues to get settled with me, but there’s something about this wall of posters that doesn’t really include any images that look like Hope…there’s something about it that bothers me.

She’s young, she’s impressionable. She believes every stinking thing in these tabloids—the good, the bad, the ugly. She’s not particularly discerning. She’s declared on some other things that “we” (Black folk) don’t do stuff because she’s never seen it; so why would she believe brown kids like her are doing bubble pop music if she’s not seeing it?

Am I really just going to have to push more youtube videos to teach her that NSync and Backstreet Boys weren’t the only games in town back in the day? (Side note: if she asks me if the members of New Edition are still alive or have they died from old age one…more…time…)

I just wonder where the brown and black teenie bopper pop stars are.

Sigh.


Shoe Drop – The Sequel

Well, we managed to make it one whole week in school before I started getting the emails about behavioral problems.  Five notes in two days.

Yeah, the last few days have been tough.  Wednesdays are usually our turn around day; things improve so I’m optimistic about today.  By Friday we’re great and then it starts all over again on Mondays.  It’s an awful cycle.  And even though I can tell it’s a cycle, it’s just relentless and the severity is always surprising and I’m getting so freaked out about Monday’s that there’s a cloud over the weekend for me.

The teachers asked me how they can help Hope.

I gave what I believe to be what I would do—try to be gracious but consistent and please be patient with us.

Yeah, the truth of the matter is I have no effing idea what they should do.  I’m barely holding it together around here.

I sat her down and gently talked to her.  She was shocked that teachers would just email me.  Naw girl, no one is checking for your little “note sent home but never really gets here” game.  No boo, teachers just email the parents now.   Her defensive shields went up slowly, but when they were up, they were really up.  You see, Hope never does anything wrong.  She is always the victim.  How dare they send me emails full of lies about her!

This oppositional defiance thing is so dang serious.  And it’s so exhausting, especially when the denials and lies fly in the face of obvious fact and reason.  There’s nothing reasonable about oppositional defiance.

This week I had to start doing some consequences; she seems stunned.  I actually am stunned.  I’m always feeling stunned.

<whisper> I kinda hate my life right now.

<whispers even more softly> I feel awful and guilty that I hate my life right now.

Amongst the rudeness, the belligerence, the lies and the shutdowns, the clinginess and everything else I can’t be bothered to list here, I’m really feeling like a failure. I know I’m not, but it sure feels sucky. I never imagined that I would fly in with a cape and save Hope; I thought I had realistic expectations, but it’s just really hard.  I cannot remember the last time when I felt so emotionally stretched.  I feel awful that I can’t muster the umph to comfort her for every little thing.  I wonder when she pushed a boundary by showing me a “funny” video laced with F-bombs, was my reaction ok? Does she think I’m mad and frustrated all the time?  I’m usually frustrated and I try not to show it, but more than mad, I’m usually aghast by just how crazy this life is at the moment.

I’m really sick with a sinus infection this morning.  So she started complaining about her ailments to see if she can one up me and if I would let her stay home with me.  She didn’t have a fever, but I did this morning.  So her little narrow butt was dispatched to the bus stop, but not before we had to have another head butt about the need for her to wear a real coat in 22 degree weather with snow storm expected to start later today.  #icant

Nothing about any of this even feels rational.  I just feel like I’m riding the same roller coaster day after day, walking on egg shells, trying to keep things moving.  Cooking, cleaning, laundry…I loathe too much clutter when I’m sick.  I like things tidy when I’m sick.  I needed her to go to school so I could have time to wipe down things with my Clorox wipes, change my sheets, make some chili and homemade bread and nurse myself and my mind.  I’m praying that the storm is delayed so that she stays after for her band practice so that I can relish two additional hours of peacefulness.  The storm means all kinds of bonding time tomorrow…Sigh.  I’m planning to run and get a couple of puzzles.

I’m hoping this Wednesday turnaround gives me the emotional break I need through the end of the week.


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